Our Family

Our Family

Friday, September 23, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew: KidsEmail.org

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
Over the last several weeks, we have had an opportunity to review the Annual Subscription to KidsEmail.org.
KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
KidsEmail.org allows your children to be in contact with friends and family using their own email address while keeping them protected from spam, viruses, and ads.  Parents can set up a variety of safety settings including: only allowing children to send and receive emails from contacts on their list, sending copies of incoming and outgoing messages to parent email, blocking images in the emails, not allowing attachments in the emails, and blocking foul language.  The parent also has the ability to set time restrictions, ground children from using the email, and block senders.  Parents can easily monitor all of their children from their dashboard.

The parent chooses the email for each child.  Younger children's email ends in "@kidsemail.org." You have the option to modify accounts for older children and have their email end in "@kmail.org" You can personalize the look of each child's email dashboard.  There are several different choices for your children to choose from such as princess, puppy, race car, kitten, unicorn, horses, flowers, wolves, colors, and many more.  Other features include a drawing board, and a read to me icon that reads the email to the child.

KidsEmail.org can be accessed on any computer.  They also have apps to use on mobile devices such as iPods, iPads, or Kindles.  

I set up email accounts for all 6 f my children.  I thought that my mom and dad would enjoy getting emails from the children and our homeschool curriculum has some letter writing exercises coming up.  I almost never buy stamps and thought that the children could practice their letter writing using their new email accounts.  

I have never allowed the children to have their own emails because I was worried about the safety issues.  I did not want them to receive spam emails or have strangers be able to contact them.  KidsEmail.org takes away all the parent worry.  I love the safety features.  My children cannot email or receive email from anyone that is not listed in their contacts.  They do not have the ability to change their contacts, only I can do that.  I like the option to be able to keep the settings the same for all children or to make changes to each individual child if you need to.

I thought that the dashboard options were really cute!  My girls love the princess and the boys liked the race car and dog.  I like that there are older looking options as well so that the older children don't think it looks "babyish."  I also think the read to me option is great for younger children though it does sound a bit robotic.
KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
We have used KidsEmail,org on my laptop and we have also used the app on my iPhone and the children's Kindles.  We like the drawing feature that is on the app.   I wish that app allowed an individual log in so I could have each child be able to log in on their own device.  The way it's set up, it uses the parent log in.  Then you can access each of the children by clicking on their icon.  I wanted to be able to log in just one child and give them the ability to see if they have new mail from the homepage on their Kindles.  I think that would make it easier for them to use independently.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew: The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

My latest review,  The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles written by Mark S. Mizra and published by CTM Publishing Atlanta, is the first book a brand new Christian historical fiction series.



The author of the book, Mark S Mizra is the founder of Common Thread Ministries which focuses on helping people, churches, and ministries develop their prayer lives.  He teaches that the Word of God should be our focus on why we pray what we pray.

The Pray-ers Book 1 Troubles, is a 372 page paperback book.  It is also available as an ebook. The story focuses on the lives of three main prayer heroes in three different periods of time in history.  In the first century we have Thales who is the nephew of Epraphus.  In the 19th Century we meet Alexander Rich, an itinerant preacher and  friend of D.L. Moody, and in the present time we have Dr. Dale Riley, a track coach and men's prayer ministry leader.  The story shows different struggles in each of the three heroes lives and the loves of some surrounding characters.  The story models how each of the heroes pray and how those prayers affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

In addition to these characters, there are also several characters from the spiritual world.  Hael is a guardian angel who has been assigned to Dr. Dale and instructed to make contact with him.  He also guarded Alexander Rich and Thales.  Tephillah is another guardian angel in the story.  There are also demons in the story named djaod, haodtie, joln, and katepa.  Throughout the book you read about the demons attempts to deceive or cast doubts in the lives of the heroes and how they use people around them to cause troubles. We also see how the prayers of the heroes affect both the demons and the angels.


I have been reviewing this book myself.  I thought that it may be of interest to my older boys, but after reading it decided this book is really for adults, and maybe older teens (think college aged) as it deals with mature issues (abortion, and an alleged rape) and does not have much subject matter that younger teens would be able to relate to.  I thought the book started out pretty slow and it took me awhile to get into it.  I think that part of that was the transition through the different time periods. Just when I felt like it was getting interesting for one of the heroes, it would switch time periods and move on to someone else's story.  Also, within each time period the story often switches from the main characters to the characters from the spiritual world and back again, and that is rather hard to follow unless you are reading very carefully. The author chose not to captitalize the names of the demons in the story.  He talks about why he did this in the preface but it is hard to get used to reading it that way. About half way through the book it really started getting interesting and I couldn't wait to see how it would end.  But, nothing was resolved in this book, you have to wait for Book 2 to find out what happens next.

The Pray-ers does have a lot to say about prayer and teaching how we should pray.  Several times during the course of my reading the book, I had to stop and think about my life and how to improve my own prayer life.  Scripture references are included throughout the book so you are able to look up the referenced verses as you are reading and read for yourself what the Bible has to say. I am very interested in reading the next book to see how everything ends up!

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 3

Since we did not have a full week of school last week, we had to play a little bit of catch up this week.  We also added in a few things this week.

Bible: We are all doing the Bible assignments from ECC together.  I am not sure what I think about it so far.  I really don't feel like it is enough Bible study.  I am going to give it a bit longer before I decide for sure.  We read Revelation 7:9-17, read about Judaism in Windows on the World, Read about Missionary Kids, did an overview on the Bible , and read about Dwight L. Moody in Hero Tales.

P.E.: We are using Family Time Fitness Core 2.  We did 4 lessons this week in FTF.

Read Aloud: We have 3 different read alouds every day.  In our morning school time we are doing the assigned read aloud from ECC which is Kingdom Tales.  This is another book I am not entirely sure what I think.  The children think it is strange and interesting and I have to say I agree.  I had chosen some books from the ECC Book Basket list to do as afternoon read alouds, but I set those aside so we could read our book club selection, The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Alex and I read this together a few years ago but the rest of the children had never heard it.)  Our before bed chapter book read aloud is The Tale of Despereaux.

Poetry: We have been working on memorizing My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson.

ECC: In geography we finished learning about map basics like the differences between a physocal and political map, and talked about local maps.  We made a map of our town.

Then we moved on to learning about our first continent, North America.  We mapped the U.S., Canada, and Mexico on our North America, along with the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.  We also added in the Mississippi River, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico.  We started labeling some states: California, Florida, Washington, Maine, our state and bordering states on the U.S. map.

In the science portion we learned about oxygen and the water cycle, and the different types of forests. We did a worksheet shading in the different types of forests around the world.

ECC uses Global Art for it's art lessons.  I am not sure how many of these we are going to end up doing.  Many of the projects are pretty involved.  We did some sand art this week.  I even bought colored sand instead of dying our own like the book suggested and it took forever.  The children did not have much patience waiting for the glue to dry between colors.  Lily worked on hers most of the afternoon, Anthony never went back and finished and Emmie and Christian only used two colors so did finish theirs though Christian was not pleased with his.








Science: In Exploring Creation with Astronomy we finished Mercury.  I picked up an ebook called Chalk Pastels: Art in Space.  We did the project on Mercury.  We had to use oil pastels because we must've used all of chalks and Walmart did not have any, but they turned out ok anyway.




Language Arts: Lily completed her lesson in .  Alex finished his section on capitals in All in One English and started on punctuation.  We completed Lesson 2 of Fix it! Grammar 2 and 3.  In Language Lessons for Today we did a picture study and spent two days copying a poem, Blind but Happy,  by Franny Crosby.

Spelling/Reading: Christian and Anthony completed lesson 3 in AAS Level 3.  In AAR Level 4 they completed lessons 5,6, and 7.  Lily completed lessons 31 and 32 in AAR Level 2.

Math: Everyone is on something different in Math!  Nick completed lesson 2 in Geometry.  Alex did 4 lessons in TT 7.  The others did four lessons in Math Lessons for a Living Education, except Lily who got a head one day and kept going.... I was a bit dismayed at how my boys had forgotten how to borrow while subtracting.  We also started drilling basic facts this week 2 days of the week. I forgot the other two.

MFW Creation from A to Z: Emmie started the "a" "apple" unit.  She did her picture card page, handwriting page, sound discrimination page, and a cut and paste page.

She also managed to entertain herself quietly every morning this week while we were working and did not interrupt one time!

All American History: Nick completed lessons 7-10.  This are pretty straight forward.  He is reading the chapters and answering the questions in the activity book.  He also started reading Under Drake's Flag by G.A. Henty.

Discovering God's Design in Nature: Nick completed Week 3's assignments.  This is very straight forward too.  Read and answer questions.

Other Activities this Week:

Tuesday nights Nick has youth.  We just have to drive him to town and drop him off and Art picks him up.

Wednesday we had Kid's Club.

Friday we met up with some homeschool friends and played some Pioneer Games.  They enjoyed it!







I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 2

This week was fair week.  We did not get as much accomplished in our homeschool as I wanted to, but we did get some things accomplished in the midst of fair busyness.

Monday was of course Labor Day.  Art was off so we did not have any school planned for the day. We took rabbits and chickens to the fair and started the set up for our fair booth.  We also finished up getting the children's other exhibits ready to enter in the fair.
Emmie lost her first tooth!





Tuesday morning we headed back to the fair  It usually takes me about 20 minutes to get there but they were doing roadwork and it ended up taking us an hour to get there.  We fed chickens and rabbits and entered all of the children's exhibits.  We made it back home by lunchtime and did some school work in the afternoon.  That evening I had to go back to town to take Nick to church (senior high youth is on Tuesday nights), and swing by the fair to pick up our exhibitor meal passes and T-shirts, and put some last minute touches on the fair booth (I had decided that the space was too empty and wanted to add a few things.)

Wednesday we had school in the morning.  Then we headed back to the fair to see how we did and feed and water animals. They were so pleased with their ribbons.  I posted about all of them here. After looking at our ribbons we headed over to church for Kid's Club.

Thursday we headed back to the fair in the morning to feed and water.  I decided to go ahead and go grocery shopping while we were in town.  By the time we did all that, put all the groceries away and I had lunch it was almost 1:30 and I decided we were taking the day off from school.  I spent the afternoon doing some freezer cooking and put 17 meals in my freezer in around 2 hours for a review I am working on of MyFreezEasy.  Hope they all taste good!


Friday we had to go back and feed and water animals.  They wanted to stop and see the snake at the Grandview booth.  Then we met some homeschool friends to play and have a picnic lunch.



Saturday morning was the livestock auction.  Local businesses and individuals donate some money to the exhibitors to help with costs. The poultry chain chickens were eligible for the auction.  Since our chickens were 3rd place the children were dead last.  It took 2 hours before it was their turn, but they waited patiently and did a great job.





We grabbed some lunch and stopped by the car show in the park.

This is not a posed picture.  They were both standing there like that and I snapped a photo. They are so alike sometimes!

That night we had to go back and do fair cleanup.  The fair is fun but a lot of work!  Next year we are planning on showing goats too.  That will be a learning experience for us all!

Week 2 in Our Homeschool

Bible: We read and discussed Genesis 11:1-9 and Isaiah 45:225-24 and Psalm 24:1-2.

Read Aloud: The recommended read aloud from MFW is Kingdom Tales.  I skipped the first story but we read The Orphan Keeper's Assistant.

P.E.: We did lesson one of Family Time Fitness Core 2.

Poetry: Reviewed all the poems we have learned and learned our 8th poem The Ingenious Little Man.

E.C.C: The geography portion had us learning about latitude, longitude, elevation and depth.  We also added the 5 oceans to our map.  In Science we learned about Biomes and shaded the different biomes around the world on a map.

Language Arts: In Language Lessons for Today 3 we learned about contractions and using the dictionary.

Spelling/Reading: Lily completed lesson 30 of AAR Level 2.  Christian and Anthony completed lesson 2 of AAS Level 3 and lesson 4 of AAR Level 4.

Astronomy: Didn't get to it.

Math: Nick did 2 lessons in MUS Geometry and Alex did 2 lessons in TT 7.  Lily, Christian, and Anthony started their brand new math, Math Lessons for a Living Education (Levels 2,4, and 5.) I read over the stories with each of them and they completed lessons 1 and 2. One of the boys' struggles is not automatically recalling math facts.  MFW suggests drilling basic facts every day rotating through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  I am going to start adding that in to our morning school work next week.


MFW Creation from A to Z: Emmie finished the unit on leaves.  She did a leaf painting and we read Caps for Sale.  She loves that book and wants to be able to read it herself.


All American History: Nick completed Lessons 5 and 6.

Discovering God's Design in Nature: He worked through the first two assignments in week 2.

I hope you had a great week!  Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Review: Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall



Fraying at the Edge is the second book in the Amish of Summer Grove series.  So many lives were changed when it was discovered that an Old Order Amish family's baby, Ariana Brenneman, is not their biological daughter.  She was actually switched at birth during a fire at the birthing center 20 years ago.  Englischer Skylar Nash is the Brenneman's biological daughter.

Ariana's biological father demands that she come and stay with them and immerse herself in their world and have no contact with any of her family or he will sue the midwife that delivered the babies. Ari's childhoos friend, Quill is the only person with whom she is allowed contact but she does not feel that she can trust him after so many betrayals.

Skylar has two choices.  She can enter drug rehab or spend several months getting to know her Amish family living with no electricity, no technology, and no fun.  She chooses to go to the Brenneman's but manages to get a supply of pills and carries her feelings of emptiness and loneliness with her.

Both families struggle with the changes.  Can Ariana and Skylar find the wisdom and strength they need they'll need to follow God's thread into their unexpected future?

Cindy Woodsmall does write your typical Amish fiction. For this series, she has crafted an amazing story around the idea of two babies, one Amish, one English being switched and birth and the truth being discovered twenty years later.  This story is intriguing and woven wonderfully together..  The characters experiences and feelings and so real and believable.  The story does not paint a magical picture of happy ever after for both families but shares their emotional struggles and changes they undergo trying to find themselves in the world they have been thrown into. Generally, female characters in stories like this tend to be my favorites, but Quill has been my favorite in both of these stories.

My only wish is that I wouldn't have to wait for the next book to come out!  I cannot wait to see how everything is resolved in Book Three. I highly recommend this and other books by Cindy Woodsmall.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC regulations.